The steps and the benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama are explined. Kapalbhati is one of the most powerful yoga breathing exercises, and its healing power is proven by many scientific studies.
You can do Kapalbhati breathing exercise to improve your memory power, concentration, lungs efficiency, blood circulation, digestion, eye sight, hair growth, and lowering blood pressure. Moreover, it can enhance your metabolic rate and can help you in weight loss.
In this article, we will share top benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama. This is a comprehensive guide on how to use this breathing techniques for your overall benefits.
Kapalbhati Pranayama Steps and Benefits
To effectively combat your daily stress, strain and anxiety of modern life, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response. Kapalbhati Pranayama can help you to control stress and the “fight or flight” response that can interfere with everyday life. Moreover, this yoga breathing technique can activate your natural relaxation and body’s natural immune response.
What is the Kapalbhati Pranayama in Yoga?
The ancient yoga texts, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gherand Samhita explained 8 types of Pranayama in detail, out of them Kapalbhati Pranayama is the type which is most famous.
Kapalbhati is a Sanskrit word, where Kapal, means “Forehead”, and Bhati meaning “to shine”. Hence, Kapalbhati literally means ‘the shining forehead.’
Kapalbhati is a rapid yoga breathing technique which involves short, strong and rapid forceful exhalations at the rate of 1 to 2 breaths per second. Here, the inhalation is passive and automatic. This pranayama increases the metabolic rate very fast.
The regular practice of Kapalbhati pranayama makes the forehead bright and removes the blockages in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. It sharpens and enhances the intellectual and cognitive abilities of the brain.
This breathing practice can strengthen your respiratory system, lungs, abdominal muscles, and can energize your circulatory system as well as the nervous system.
How to Do Kapalbhati Pranayama?
Kapalbhati Pranayama can be performed on the ground, yoga mat, or any flat comfortable surface. To perform the Kapalbhati Pranayama, follow these steps:
- Sit comfortably in Vajrasana, Sukhasana or any meditative posture.
- Keep your spine relaxed and straight.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed, and neck unstrained.
- Place your hands on the knees with palms open to the sky.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- Inhale deeply through both nostrils, and expand your chest slightly.
- Now, do short, strong and rapid forceful exhalations in short intervals, while keeping your inhalation passive and automatic.
- During each exhalation pull the belly slightly inside.
- Complete 20 such rapid breaths at a speed 1 to 2 breath per second.
- Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
- This is one round of Kapalabhati.
- After completing the round, relax for about a minute, with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
- Repeat this for 2 to 3 more rounds.
Please note that when you inhale, the stomach should come outwards, and upon exhalation, it should move inwards.
Number of rounds: Initially, you can practice up to 3 rounds of 20 breaths each. The count and rounds can be increased gradually over a period of time.
Health issues: If you have hypertension or any other health issue do kapalbhati very slowly, and always consult experts.
Breathing rules: You need forceful exhalation by contracting the abdominal muscles, without any undue movements in the chest and shoulder region. Inhalation should be passive throughout the practice.
Kapalbhati Pranayama Benefits
Kapalbhati Pranayama are great dynamic breathing exercises with benefits that include:
- Improves cognitive functions and emotional intelligence.
- Improves the functioning of the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
- Removes toxins & strengthen the respiratory system.
- Helps to reduce blood pressure.
- Helps in weight loss.
- Reduces anxiety and depression.
- Energizes the entire body and mind.
- Stimulates the internal organs, helps people with diabetes.
- Improves the functioning of the liver, heart, and the eyes.
- Increases the metabolic rate and helps in weight loss.
- Enhances the capacity of the lungs and makes them stronger.
- Removes the blockages of the subtle energy channels (nadis).
- Improves blood circulation and adds radiance to the face.
- Improves digestion functioning, in absorption, and assimilation of nutrients.
- Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells.
- Purifies the frontal air sinuses; helps to overcome cough disorders.
- Useful in treating cold, rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma and bronchial infections.
- Rejuvenates whole body, and keeps the face young and vibrant.
- Balances and strengthens the nervous system and tones up the digestive system.
- Calms and uplifts the mind.
Chakras and the Kapalbhati Pranayama
There are 114 chakras in the human body. Kapalbhati Pranayama activates many internal micro-chakra circuits of the 114 chakra networks. It connects the respiratory system, liver chakra, heart chakra and the polar star, and the soul chakras. Chakras in the brainstem and the medulla are also activated and balanced by this breathing exercises. The blockages in the forehead micro chakras are removed by Kapalbhati pranayama.
Breathing is controlled centrally by the brainstem. The regular cycle of breathing originates in the medulla. The breath rate and tidal volume is continuously adjusted based on pH and PaCO2. The main advantages of Kapalbhati pranayama are due to the therapeutic effects of the activation of the 114 chakra circuits in the brainstem and the forehead areas.
Kapalbhati Pranayama and Weight Loss
Kapalbhati pranayama is famous for body weight control and blood pressure control. Carrying excess body weight can increase your risk of serious health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes . Kapalbhati exercise is the easy to control your body weight optimally.
Researchers observed  that when 10 kg of fat were oxidized, 8.4 kg were converted and excreted as carbon dioxide (CO2) via the lungs, and 1.6 kg became water (H20).
In order for 10 kg of human fat to be oxidized, the researchers calculated that 29 kg of oxygen must be inhaled. Oxidation then produces a total of 28 kg of CO2 and 11 kg of H20. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled. Kapalbhati pranayama can greatly help us to exhale the excess CO2.
Kapalbhati Pranayama and Blood Pressure
As you regularly do this breathing exercise, it can increase your heart and breathing rates, over time your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure. Kapalvhati, with Anulom Vilom and Bhramari Pranayama, and sukha pranayama at the rate of 6 breaths/minute can reduce the blood pressure .
Kapalbhati Pranayama Limitations and Restrictions
The following are a few common limitations and restrictions of Kapalbhati Pranayama:
- Should not be performed immediately after a meal.
- If you suffer from hypertension, then go slow and soft.
- Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stent, epilepsy, gallbladder stone, hernia, backache due to slip disc, or have recently undergone abdominal surgery.
- If you have ulcers, then you have to be very careful while practicing this breathing exercise.
- Women should not practice the Forehead Shining Breathing technique during and shortly after pregnancy as well as during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
- People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this breathing technique only under a doctor and yoga expert’s guidance.
- If you are suffering from any health issue, always consult your doctor.
The Bottom Line
Kapalbhati Pranayam is an easy and highly effective way to improve your overall health. Its benefits include improving emotional intelligence, lowering blood pressure, helping to burn excess fats, improves eye sight and hair growth, strengthens your heart, lungs and the internal organs. Just do this breathing practice regularly along with other yoga exercises for at least half an hour per day of moderately and take the benefits.
We hope these steps and the benefits of the Kapalbhati pranayama will help you improve your health. With the right balance of food, exercise, and sleep, you will be equipped to provide the best experience in your life. A good breathing exercise combined with yoga exercises improves health, brings stability of mind, and adds values to your life.